Trying to improve my health and wellbeing—and my sheer enjoyment of life—I have recently had my eyes laser corrected and been in the process of replacing old dental fillings that were cracking the insides of my teeth and leading to what was a previously unexplainable pain while I was eating. 

On the one hand, I am committed to feeling as well as possible and so the nuisances involved (appointments, the discomforts) seems more than worthwhile. On the other hand, I must, of course, sit in an uncomfortable chair to make this happen.

The eyes were first. It was an anxious moment, what if something went wrong, so much of my life involves reading, looking at my lovely wife, watching my three little lads bounce around, staring at the way leaves move in the wind…also, the process itself involves cutting open eyeballs, so there’s that. Most patients actually take some sort of relaxant provided by the laser eye people, in order to peacefully position themselves in the chair and have this totally voluntary surgery performed. I thought I would pass on that because I wasn’t that nervous and because I tend to shy away from mind altering substances (other than the occasional alcohol).

It turned out the procedure wasn’t all that bad for me because a practiced instinct took over. Without thinking about it I placed my hands at the bottom of my belly, where I can feel that I am taking in proper lung-filling breaths. I was slowly breathing in and out, full capacity, pauses at either end of the breath, slowing my heartbeat, calming the mind. Before I knew it the operation was over and now I can see 20/20 and life is a bit more grand than it used to be. As a runner, cyclist, swimmer, etc. I am particularly grateful to have one less item to worry about and that much clearer sight while doing my favourite activities. 

I noticed the exact same thing happen in the dentist chair. The dentist actually seemed a bit surprised at just how calm I was. I was almost asleep as he prepared to rip apart fillings, cracked teeth and rebuild. Again, hands on belly, slow deep breaths, lowered heart rate…before I knew it the works was done and I was walking home. 

I wasn’t experiencing anything like a religious experience in either  medical chair but I was benefiting from a religious practice in a non-religious moment. 

When athletes practice the same shot over and over they do so in order to perfect the shot instinctively, reflexively, without thought so that when they need it it is there. 

When a person sets out to pray regularly they often hope that this will amount to them being triggered to pray in any number of situations, the practice becoming second-nature. 

When one meditates and seeks through it to get closer to God and to improve one’s ability to be in the moment, control one’s mind, and focus one’s attention, we hope to be able to use these skills in other parts of life. 

I don’t mean to boast but I was very excited to realize the extent to which this seems to be working out for me. I am sharing this because it might offer some encouragement to you, or at least one more reason to buckle down and practice meditation, especially if you are the type to dread any and all such appointments. 

One thought on “A Practical Benefit of Meditation

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